Cover image for Electric dreams : one unlikely team of kids and the race to build the car of the future
Electric dreams : one unlikely team of kids and the race to build the car of the future
Kettlewell, Caroline.
Personal Author:
First Carrol and Graf edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Carroll & Graf, [2004]

Physical Description:
290 pages ; 24 cm
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 8.4 15.0 105736.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TL220 .K48 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



When Berkeley graduate Eric Ryan was sent by Teach for America to a hardscrabble high school in the heart of North Carolina's NASCAR country, he didn't count on Harold Miller -- a big guy with a big laugh and a tarheel accent as thick as sorghum syrup -- sticking his head into his class one morning and announcing, "Hey Mr. Ryan, we're gonna build an electric car." Two regional utilities had challenged a group of elite schools throughout the South to design and build battery-poweredelectric vehicles to be judged during a final contest at NASCAR's Richmond International Raceway. Although Ryan's underprivileged high school was not on the list, Miller managed to squeak them in. With a Ford Escort rescued from the compacter, a few hundred pounds of scavenged golf cart batteries, a local minor league NASCAR driver as coach, and the local constabulary looking the other way as the reborn "Shocker" began careening over back roads on test runs, the kids get their pasted-together dark horse to the big contest in Richmond. Electric Dreams offers drama built on marvelous small-town characters, and a story of never-say-die invention which would make North Carolina's other pioneers, the Wright Brothers, proud.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This is a feel-good story about a competition that, for once, was not based on athletics. Instead it supported math, science, and technology education for high-school students by combining all three within a single project--converting a conventional car into an electric vehicle (EV). Two regional utilities backed a contest among a group of schools throughout the South to design and build EVs that would be judged during a contest to be held at NASCAR's Richmond International Raceway. An overexcitable neophyte science teacher and an unflappable, impassioned vocational technology instructor teamed up at a high school in the poorest county in North Carolina to mentor their students through the process. They found an old Ford Escort, dubbed Shocker; held countless fund-raisers to purchase hundreds of pounds of golf-cart batteries; and tested and re-tested their vehicle on the local back roads. By the time the hardworking team makes it to Richmond, where there is formidable competition from elite math academies, readers will be awaiting the results on the edge of their seats. Exciting and inspirational reading. --Joanne Wilkinson Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In 1995 the Virginia Power company hosted a competition for high schools in the mid-Atlantic region to convert conventional automobiles into electric vehicles (EVs). As it happened, out of habitual disregard for impoverished Northampton County in North Carolina, the company nearly forgot to invite the eventual winners. Aided by a handful of phenomenal teachers, some uncommonly bright and determined students and a pervading regional interest in automobiles fueled by NASCAR, the county was able to outperform schools of far greater pedigree and budget. Of course, the widespread, reflexive negative expectations provided no small motivation to the kids of Northampton County. They mastered problems involving electrical wiring, battery longevity, welding and aerodynamics in converting a 1985 Ford Escort to the aptly named-in more ways than one-"Shocker." A resident of Richmond, Va., Kettlewell (Skin Game) brings just the right regional flavor to a can't-miss true story reminiscent of the movie Breaking Away. The word "inspirational" is applied to too many books, but it comfortably fits this one, with its genuinely likable cast of unlikely achievers. This is essential reading for any serious environmentalist, as it makes the case that EVs might play even in the conservative South. Even more, it contains profound lessons that everyone involved in the educational system would do well to heed. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-The chances of the North Hampton High School-East even getting to Richmond to compete in the first Mid-Atlantic High School Electric Vehicle Challenge were slim to none. All that the team from the poorest county in North Carolina had to do was "find a car, take it apart, put it back together, and make it drive" in five months. But Harold Miller, the auto technology teacher who'd grown up "with a torque wrench in his hand and a grease rag tucked in his pocket"; Eric Ryan, a California beach boy working in the Teach for America program; and the Electric Cars of Roanoke Valley team of students actually won the competition with "Shocker," a twice-totaled 1985 two-door Ford Escort powered by golf-cart batteries. Teens will be drawn to this story of underdogs battling the odds, and they will root for the students who worked together to design the engine and build it from the frame up. The tension and drama mount as the car progresses. The author has a keen eye for just the right detail and an ability to make even the mechanics of electric engines easy to understand.-Jane S. Drabkin, Chinn Park Regional Library, Woodbridge, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.